THE United States lags dangerously behind al-Qaeda and other enemies in getting out information in the digital media age and must update its old-fashioned methods, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said yesterday.
Modernisation is crucial to winning the hearts and minds of Muslims worldwide who are bombarded with negative images of the West, Mr Rumsfeld told the Council on Foreign Relations.
The Pentagon chief said today’s weapons of war included email, Blackberries, instant messaging, digital cameras and web logs, or blogs.
“Our enemies have skilfully adapted to fighting wars in today’s media age, but . . . our country has not adapted,” Mr Rumsfeld said. “For the most part, the US Government still functions as a five and dime store in an eBay world,” Mr Rumsfeld said, comparing old-fashioned US retail stores and the online auction house.
Mr Rumsfeld said military public affairs officers must learn to anticipate news and respond faster, and good public affairs officers should be rewarded with promotions.
The military’s information offices still operate mostly eight hours a day, five or six days a week while the challenges they face occur 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Mr Rumsfeld called that a “dangerous deficiency”.
Democrat Senator Ted Kennedy immediately criticised Mr Rumsfeld as missing the point.
“Clearly, we need to improve our public diplomacy and information age communication in the Muslim world,” Senator Kennedy said in a statement. “But nothing has done more to encourage increased al-Qaeda recruitment and made America less safe than the war in Iraq and the incompetent way it’s been managed.
“Our greatest failure is our policy.”…
No, Mr. Kennedy, so far our greatest failure is the non-comprehension of jihad warfare at the top levels of our government and among our policy making elite.